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Children need to be taught how to wash hands, says NICE

Children and young people need to be taught to wash their hands properly in a bid to cut down the risk of infection, according to new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Handwashing-iStock.jpg

Children and young people need to be taught to wash their hands properly in a bid to cut down the risk of infection, according to new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

NICE said it believed telling people how to look after themselves which includes good hand hygiene reduces the risk of spreading infection and cuts down patient demand for antibiotics.

It says children and young people need to be told when and how to wash and dry their hands, while settings such as care homes must also adopt strict hand-washing policies.

According to one study cited by NICE, good hygiene helps reduce the transmission of gastrointestinal infection to other family

Children and young people need to be taught to wash their hands properly in a bid to cut down the risk of infection, according to new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).


Young children should be told how to wash and dry hands, NICE says. Picture: iStock

NICE said it believed telling people how to look after themselves – which includes good hand hygiene – reduces the risk of spreading infection and cuts down patient demand for antibiotics.

It says children and young people need to be told when and how to wash and dry their hands, while settings such as care homes must also adopt strict hand-washing policies.

According to one study cited by NICE, good hygiene helps reduce the transmission of gastrointestinal infection to other family members.

The guidance also calls for young people going to university to be taught how to look after themselves if they have a self-limiting illness, such as a cold or flu.

Campus posters 

Students should be given guidance on recognising illnesses that will get better on their own, as well as being signposted to pharmacies, NHS 111 and the NHS Choices website.

‘The committee discussed the importance of people knowing the natural course of an illness – with and without using antimicrobials – and that there is often very little difference in recovery times,’ the guidance states.

On handwashing, it says posters should be put up around campus showing how to wash hands properly.

Similarly, in nurseries and schools, young children should be told how to wash and dry hands after using the toilet, before eating meals or snacks, and after being in close contact with people with colds or other infections.

People should use liquid soap and tepid running water to wash their hands after using a bin.

Educational resources 

Other measures to cut the risk of falling ill include ensuring food and leftovers are stored in the fridge, cooked at the right temperature and properly heated through.

Healthcare professionals should use evidence-based teaching tools to help children and young people understand how infections spread and how antimicrobial resistance develops.

They should signpost relevant educational resources such as Public Health England’s e-Bug project or the University of Southampton’s Germ Defence.

The e-Bug project provides information and games for teachers and youngsters to learn about the spread of microbes, when and how to wash their hands.

Worrying statistics 

England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said: ‘We need to address the growing problem of drug-resistant infections as the global medicine cabinet is becoming increasingly bare.

’Preventing infections in the first place is key and so is education on how to use antibiotics appropriately.

‘This guidance provides important information on how we can keep these important medicines working.’

NICE said by 2050, 10 million people could die a year from ordinary infections or from routine operations, if antimicrobial resistance continues to increase.


Further information

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